FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Arthur Heitzer, NLG Cuba Subcommittee Chair
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NEW YORK—Just three days before a nearly unanimous vote by the United Nations General Assembly on October. 27 to condemn the continued U.S. embargo of Cuba, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Obama administration to cease awaiting action by Congress, and to use “its expansive authority to allow Cuba to sell” to the U.S. market, and allow U.S. suppliers to sell to Cuba. So far, the administration has amended its Treasury Department regulations to theoretically allow U.S. sales to Cuba only to private enterprises in Cuba working on privately owned buildings, and in the field of telecommunications.
According to attorney Arthur Heitzer, Chair of the NLG’s Cuba Subcommittee, a Commerce Dept. spokesperson stated that this change would not even allow a U.S. company to sell ventilation equipment to private company in Cuba if it would then service a Cuban hospital, as the hospital is government-owned under the country’s universal health care system. “The existing laws do not require such narrow regulations,” Heitzer added. “The majority of Americans favor trade with Cuba, despite the refusal of Congressional leaders to allow a vote repealing the authority for the current restrictions. Unnecessary U.S. interference in Cuban commerce, such as the Obama administration’s recent imposition of fines of some $1 billion each on a German and French banks for processing Cuban payments, for example, undermines Cuban sovereignty and makes daily life harder for the Cuban people,” Heitzer stated.
The NLG resolution also noted continued and even escalating action taken recently by members of the Administration against advocates for normalized relations. This includes: (1) a pending IRS action to revoke the tax exempt status of Pastors for Peace/IFCO based on its 25-year history of using civil disobedience to challenge the travel and trade restrictions; (2) renewed administrative prosecutions based on travel four and five years ago; and (3) the State Department’s continuing practice of unreasonably delaying visas for Cuban citizens who have been invited to speak in the U.S.
“The National Lawyers Guild stands in solidarity with Cuba as we work to ensure that human rights prevail over property interests,” said NLG Executive Director Pooja Gehi.
The full text of the Guild’s resolution, as well as previous resolutions, is available at www.nlg.org/member/bylaws-resolutions.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
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